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What's the Best Format For Your Resume?

We explain the three different resume formats and we tell you which one is best for you. Are you trying to hide your age or employment gaps. We show you how to do it the right way.

When it comes to formatting your resume the goal is to give the hiring manager the information he needs right away. This “above the fold” section is critical as to whether the hiring manager digs deeper into your resume.

So let’s see which format serves you best when creating your resume.

There are three choices:

  • Chronological
  • Functional
  • Hybrid

1. Chronological format

A purely chronological format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent job. The chronological format makes it hard for the hiring manager to discover exactly what it is you can do for him. He has to read your full resume just to figure out what you do. This is not ideal.

2. Functional format

A purely functional format shows your skills and your accomplishments in a summary format, but it does not show each job you held with the dates. A functional format often gives the impression the candidate is trying to hide something like age or a gap in employment. This is not a good way to start a relationship with your future boss.

Individually each format above has its own problems

This is why instead of a purely chronological format or a purely functional format we recommend you use what is known as a “hybrid resume format.”

Let’s take a look...

  • Hybrid format

The hybrid format combines the best of a chronological format and a functional format. This format allows the hiring manager to figure out what work you do well, quickly and easily.
Since the hiring manager is short on time and has to read at least 25 more resumes, this format provides a summary of what you can do, right up top, above the fold. The Silver Bullet section provides this information (we’ll discuss the Silver Bullet section in more detail on page 27.)

The hybrid format quickly shows if you’re a fit for the job

If it looks like you might be a fit for the organization, the hiring manager reads the rest of your resume. At this point, your work experience allows the hiring manager to decide if he should call you for an interview.

Here’s what the hiring manager wants to see:

  • The sequence of job changes in reverse order, i.e. most recent up front and oldest positions near the back.
  • How often have you changed jobs? Have you changed companies every two years or have you been somewhere for five years or more.
  • How has your career progressed over time? Did you take on more and more responsibility? Did you get promoted often? Or have you always worked at the same level?

The resume template we provide uses the hybrid format

The hybrid format highlights what makes you special without raising flags such as looking like you’re trying to hide your age.

If age is a concerning factor, don’t try to hide it.
Let’s say you are 62 years old. You have worked for 40 years since starting your first professional job at the age of 22.  In this case you want to highlight the details of your accomplishments for the last 15 to 20 years and provide a lot less detail for the earlier years.

For a recent job, you might provide five or six bullet points demonstrating your achievements. But for jobs over 20 years ago you might show only one or two bullet points.

If you are having trouble fitting your resume into two pages, then it’s best to reduce the space taken up by your earlier jobs. If you have to, you can drop off earlier jobs altogether. However, if you worked for any well known, name brand companies, I would show those, even if they were your first job out of school. Don’t try to hide your age. Just talk less about your first few jobs.

Now let’s take an in-depth look at each section in the hybrid resume format.


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Resume Templates and How To Write The Perfect Resume - eBook Cover Photo
Click here for the
Perfect Resume